Nearly 50 years ago today, the Beatles taught the US to play

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In February 1964 they sang to 73 million viewers on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ and, says Neil McCormick, changed the country – and popular music – forever.

Fifty years ago, the Beatles hit America like a seismic wave, changing the country and popular music forever.

It would be hard to overstate the impact the band had in the US in the first months of 1964. I don’t think there has ever been a pop moment like it, and I doubt there ever will be again. As US rock star Tom Petty has memorably described it: “The Beatles came on The Ed Sullivan Show and it was like the whole world changed overnight.”

The band took America with dizzying speed. In 1963, while Beatlemania ripped through Britain, the Beatles hadn’t ....

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